I wrote several months ago that the personal nature of the rift between the Middle/Southern (MS) states vs. the Northeast/Northwest (NEW) states has put America on a path to divorce - the differences are simply irreconcilable. That was in the midst of the Republican Primary. Have things changed since? Did the election resolve or reconcile anything?
No. America has never faced its mortality, and thus never grasped or faced the question of what it really stands for, what is at the core of being American. Without this, there is nothing with which to trump the red/blue emotional antipathy I referenced in that blog, and without which, I don't think America can be one nation.
I joined Microsoft in 1994, during its "cool" zenith (Windows 95): success was everywhere, the stock was rising, the world was happy. Then came the DOJ. Being a convicted monopolist put the company back on its heels. We became timid, cautious, and for a long while, without mojo. They are a different company today, Windows and Office are still the flagships, but now Servers, Xboxes, etc. are legitimate multi-$billion businesses unto themselves. Tablets and Phones are new, but the company is patient and tenacious and will keep trying.
Their size and diversity has put them in a position of potential success in a number of high-margin businesses. Each of their battles (DOJ, browser wars, open source, search, Apple, etc.) caused them to question who they are, what they are, and either re-up or abandon the idea that Microsoft could exist and thrive as a "new" entrant in non-PC markets. They have faced breakups, severe loss of cool, being viewed as insignificant, and yet, the profits keep coming in.
Look also at Germany through the 20th century -- decimated in WWI, they rose from the ashes, became an industrial powerhouse in the hands of one man. Vanquished again in WWII, they were split in half and became servants of their Eastern and Western masters. Two generations on, Germany reasserted her independence and united as one nation with a clear identity that is informed by its past, understands its potential, and has the maturity to be a world leader. It is now a global powerhouse whose citizens enjoy a comprehensive social and economic foundation.
While the WWII/Holocaust generation is waning, that Germany's behavior still colors their thought process. Rather than diminish, it has strengthened their resolve to strive for success, but with a conscience. Over the years, they looked inward, explored what it really meant to be German, evaluated their past, understood the essence of who they were, and then emerged as the culture they are.
The desire to remain whole; diversify with a long-term view; and embrace conflict and introspection does pay off. If I were picking a long-term tech investment, or betting on a country's preeminence over time, I'd buy Microsoft or pick Germany -- they've been bloodied, faced their own good and bad, and shown that they can get back on the horse, and progress.
America is divisive and divided today because she has never been bloodied; the act of being American has never been questioned. 9-11 was a blip - there is no lasting effect. Support for the military and first responders at sporting events while touching, has not prevented budget cuts and reductions in force. America and Americans have never been sufficiently challenged or provoked to true introspection. The country remains successful, but also petulant, naive, and immature on the world stage.
Today Democrats hate Republicans for their passion for god and guns, and disdain for science. Republicans hate Democrats for their passion for socialistic services, secularism, and belief in science. If America is to be a beacon for pluralism and freedom, then it must experience the worst that can be thrown its way, and yet stay true to these ideals.
This isn't about any one issue, it is about never having questioned your fundamental identity, never having faced legitimate threats to your existence, and never having risen from such challenges as one.
America was most "American" when it faced the very real threat of identity and existence from the Soviet Union and Communism. It gave the country a higher purpose than childish partisan bickering - and while that threat was credible and imminent, the country was more together than apart. Once the Iron Curtain fell, the bickering returned, and as the threat to America diminished, so did our desire to put America above partisanship. It seems the experience of falling and then rising from the ashes is required to created sustained oneness.
Visit Fukushima, Japan, and then New Orleans, Louisiana and ask yourself which cataclysm happened seven years ago, and which one happened two years ago? Ask yourself which country is more persistent, more resilient, and more unified?
Despite their absurd and moronic efforts, our politicians can not make China another USSR - our economic interdependence and China's passion for capitalism are just two reasons.
Is it possible to become one without having to rise from the ashes? Can American ingenuity and "exceptionalism" extend this far? If the post election machinations of the White House and Congress are any indication, then no.
If America is to live, it must first die a little bit.